District Attorneys work together to fight domestic violence

(WMC-TV) - District Attorneys Amy Weirich and Mike Dunavant say crime is dropping in the Mid-South, but domestic violence cases are on the rise, and it's only going to get worse with the holiday season approaching.

Weirich says an increased focus on DV cases started with the death of Memphis Police Officer Timothy Warren.

"He died in the staircase of a downtown hotel with something that started as a domestic violence fight, and that's when we reached new levels," she said

Weirich and West Tennessee District Attorney Mike Dunavant now have a stronger reason to fight domestic violence and protect domestic violence victims.  According to Weirich, in Shelby County alone there have been over 6,000 domestic violence cases since January 1.

That number, she believes, is entirely too high.

"Why that is, I wish I knew," she said. "Some of it is an increase in reporting, which makes your case load go up, and that's a good thing."

In addition to specialized domestic violence prosecution units, both Dunavant and Weirich have also lobbied for increased punishment for those who commit domestic violence.

Dunavant says strangulation crimes, for instance, are now a felony.

"Clearly we are getting more aggressive and getting more time on serious bodily injury, where people are being strangled and we see that most in domestic violence cases," he said.

The bottom line - says Weirich and Dunavant - is a renewed commitment to caring for victims of violent crimes.

"We are saying to victims and to offenders: This is no longer acceptable. We take this seriously and you will be punished for it if you commit the crime," Dunavant said.

Weirich said within a few months, the Family Service Center on Madison Avenue in Memphis will open its doors as another place to help victims of domestic violence.

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